Worry & The Animals

We all have experienced at some point or another the type of worry that keeps up at night or clenches our imagination during the day. Often connected to narratives fraught with complex and painful feelings, these stories remain just outside conscious awareness.

Through a series of generative prompts I invited participants to share their experiences of fear and anxiety. Starting from an invitation to conjure the feelings in my presence I asked them to describe the animal that best represented their fear or anxiety. We then, from the position of the animal mined the feelings for stories both unnerving and frightening.

Upon reaching what I perceived to be the height of the upset I let them know that another animal had arrived. I said "This animal has changed your physiology and you are feeling very... and in your body you are noticing..." and I used words to describe feelings that countered what they had previously described feeling. So if it was "panicky" I let them know they felt calm upon interacting with this animal, if it was "lost" they felt, I let them know they felt resolute. I then asked them what the new animal was and what it did in interaction with them that had such a dramatic effect in changing how they felt.

Using these interviews I crafted a "script," set out to create costumes that myself and the participants wore to represent each of their animals, and filmed the stories of Fox, Sheep, and Pill Bug, as they wind their way through their respective landscapes of fear of abandonment, fear of never finding one's true voice, and fear of heights. Each character struggling to  to uncover a soothing counterpart and transformed alternative to their suffering.

The project and resulting experimental documentary was made possible through the generous support of a Royal Production Company Residency that took place at Royal Nonesuch Gallery in the Fall of 2016.